John was part of the group of Separatists who relocated to Leiden, Holland, from England, in order to practice their religion in the open, before coming to Plymouth. He came to Plymouth between 1628-1632. Some researchers believe he is the John Dunham from Scrooby, England, whose line goes back to medieval gentry, but a newer article in The American Genealogist states he was from Bedfordshire.
|The Old Rhine in Leiden, Holland source: wikipedia|
John married first, Susanna Keno (or Kenny, Kaino, Canno and other variations). The parish register of Clophill, Bedfordshire, England, contains the record of the marriage of John Dunham and Susan Kaino on 17 Aug 1612. They had children John, Humility and Thomas. Their son John was baptized in nearby Henlow, Bedfordshire in 1615. John and Edward Tilley of the Mayflower were also from Henlow.
Susanna died before October 1622, when John Dunham appeared in the census, living in the Zevenhuysen area of Leiden with children John, Humility, and Thomas.
John married Abigail Barlow (sometimes Ballou), daughter of Thomas Barlow, on 22 October 1622 at Leiden Holland. They had eight children: Samuel, Jonathan, Abigail, Joseph, Hannah, Persis, Benajah, and Daniel.
John was a weaver by trade, but in Plymouth he was often charged with care of cattle. Although he signed his will with his mark, he likely had some education based on the committees he served on. He was deputy for Plymouth to General Court for many years, on the committee concerning trade on the Kennebec, auditor, committee to make laws, grand jury, petit jury, coroner's jury, committee to confer with General Court about the war (1642), selectman, rater, lot layer, and viewer of land.
John’s children with Susanna:
1. John, who married Mary, whose maiden name is unknown. He lived at Plymouth and was brought to court for "for his abusive carriage towards his wife in continual tyrannizing over her, and in particular for his late abusive and uncivil carriage in endeavoring to beat her in a debased manner, and for frightening her by drawing a sword and pretending therewith to officer violence to his life..." Dunham was sentenced to be severely whipped, but "through the importunity of his wife" the execution of the sentence was suspended, depending on his future behavior, and he had to provide bail of 20 pounds against his continued good behavior and appearance at the next court. (PCR 4: 104) No further mention of wife abuse by John Dunham.
2. Humility. There is no further record of her after being mentioned in the 1622 census.
3. Thomas. He died by 1677 and apparently did not marry.
John’s children with Abigail:
1. Samuel married Martha Beals in 1649 and died Jan 1711/12 in Plymouth
2. Jonathan married Mary Delano and 2nd Mary Cobb and removed to Middleborough and then Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard where he died in 1717. He served as a minister to Indians.
|Jonathan Dunham's gravestone, Tower Hill Cemetery, Edgartown source: history.vineyard.net|
3. Abigail who married Stephen Wood. She died November 1644 at Plymouth.
4. Joseph who married Mercy Morton and 2nd Esther Wormall.
5. Hannah married Gyles Rickard. She died Plymouth October 1651.
6. Persis married Benajah Pratt, 2nd Jonathan Snow (or Shaw). She died Plymouth Nov 1655. I descend through Persis and Benajah’s son Daniel who married Martha Lazell.
7. Benajah married Elizabeth Tilson.
8. Daniel married Hannah _____.
In his will dated 28 Jan 1668 and proved 4 June 1669, "John Dunham Senior of Plymouth" bequeathed to "my son John Dunham who is my eldest son...I have given him his portion already...to what I was able and beyond my ability"; to "my son Benajah Dunham and my son-in-law Stephen Wood" all my right at Agawaum and Sepecan equally; to "my son Daniell Dunham" all my land at Fresh Lake, also "all that land that lieth at home which he made use of this year which I already ordered to him"; to "my loving wife Abigaill Dunham" my now dwelling house, my orchards, with all my land no elsewhere given, all my meadow at the watering place during her life and at her death, to "my son Daniell Dunham"; "my son Thomas Dunham" 5 pounds paid by my son Daniel Dunham upon demand; to "all the rest of my children that are not expressed in this my last will 12d. each if they demand it"; residue to my loving wife Abigail Dunham, executrix; "my loving friends Captain Thomas Southworth and the elder Thomas Cushman and my son Samuell Dunham" overseers (MD 17:113-14, citing PCPR 2:2:53).
An inventory of the goods of "John Dunham Senior deceased" was taken 16 March 1668/9 and was untotaled; it included only 3 pounds of real estate; "house and land not prised (presumably because he had already given it to Daniel) only threescore acres of upland at Swanhold not willed away."
He died at Plymouth 2 March 1668/9 aged about 80 (PCR 8:32). He is called “about fourscore yeares.”
Abigail’s death date is not known, by she died after June 1669 when she was named executrix of her husband’s estate.
At the time of his death, it was recorded that "He was an approved servant of God, and a useful man in his place, being a deacon of the church of Christ at Plymouth" (PCR 8:32).
Sources Not Listed in the Above:
Eugene Stratton, Plymouth Colony, It's History and People, 1986
The English Origin and First Marriage of Deacon John 1 Dunham of Plymouth Massachusetts, by Robert Leigh Ward, The American Genealogist, July 1996
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 1995
"The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth Colony," by James and Patricia Scott Deetz
"Early Descendants of Henry Cobb of Barnstable, Massachusetts," Friends of the Pilgrim Series, Volume 1, by Susan E. Roser, 2008